The Panama papers continued to rumble on, with politicians including the Prime Minister and the Chancellor releasing their tax returns. Meanwhile, the lawyer at the centre of the scandal seemed unconcerned, if the interview he gave The New York Times was any indication. Ramon Fonseca, one of the co-founders of Mossack Fonseca, explained his philosophy of wealth creation: “I believe in sharing the pizza. At least to give others one slice”. No mention yet of any Scottish law firms in the 11.5 million documents.
Are the first shoots of a homegrown scandal appearing with the spring? Reports of 7,000 Edinburgh school pupils unable to return to classes after the Easter break due to safety concerns with buildings constructed under the controversial PFI/PPP initiative of the Labour/LibDem coalition at Holyrood were seen by many in the press as a precursor of much bigger trouble ahead. Quite who else in the wider community – banks, lawyers, accountants- may be caught under the figurative rubble remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission received feedback on its draft strategy document. The Law Society of Scotland in particular seemed very eager to help: “... four out of your five priorities do not even mention the word ‘complaints’. For a body which has been established to handle complaints... we find this astonishing”. The consultation response from the Faculty of Advocates elegantly reminded everyone of a few fundamentals that were otherwise lost in the diagrams – such as the concept of vires and the difference between clients and consumers.
Anyone forgetting the old adage “truth is stranger than fiction” need only consider the O.J. Simpson trial of 1995, currently being dramatized as The People vs O.J. Simpson. The enormously entertaining and brilliantly cast series reached its penultimate episode this week, focusing on the judge and two lead prosecutors. It was a reminder that the media circus affected ordinary real-life state employees, as well as creating the meta- drama of the Kardashian Klan. As the DA commented of OJ’s best friend Robert Kardashian: “Who even knew he was a lawyer?”.
Equally must-see television is the Danish drama Follow the Money on BBC 4, which although fictional, feels all too real. The young lawyer at the centre of the story bought into the success of “Energreen”, the green energy company she works for. Her promotion to Head of Legal has coincided with the scales falling from her eyes. The drama is a gripping reminder that “new” energy companies are just as capable of the same old dirty tricks. This is neatly summed up in the character of the CEO “Sander”, who makes a great show of cycling through London to a tv interview lauding him as the next big thing. On every other occasion, his mode of travel is a chauffeur driven S-class Mercedes. Could it happen in Scotland? Of course it could. Both dramas are available on catch-up on the i-player and conclude next week.
History made in Parliament House with the appointment of Lady Dorrian as Lord Justice Clerk, the first woman to hold one of the two most senior judicial appointments in Scotland.
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